Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Reading Events & Book Club Meeting!

Book discussion of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

Book club is open for all to join in the conversation!


Will Fellows, author of Gay Bar: The Fabulous True Story of a Daring Woman and her Boys in the 1950s
Co-Sponsored by Bronze Optical

Vivacious, unconventional, candid, and straight, Helen Branson operated a gay bar in Los Angeles in the 1950s—America’s most anti-gay decade. After years of fending off drunken passes as an entertainer in cocktail bars, this divorced grandmother preferred the wit, variety, and fun she found among homosexual men. 

Enjoying their companionship and deploring their plight, she gave her gay friends a place to socialize. Though at the time California statutes prohibited homosexuals from gathering in bars, Helen’s place was relaxed, suave, and remarkably safe from police raids and other anti-homosexual hazards. In 1957, she published her extraordinary memoir Gay Bar, the first book by a heterosexual to depict the lives of homosexuals with admiration, respect, and love.
In this new edition of Gay Bar, Will Fellows interweaves Branson’s chapters with historical perspective provided through his own insightful commentary and excerpts gleaned from letters and essays appearing in gay publications of the period. Also included is the original introduction to the book by maverick 1950s psychiatrist Blanche Baker. The eclectic selection of voices gives the flavor of American life in that extraordinary age of anxiety, revealing how gay men saw themselves and their circumstances, and how others perceived them.
Will FellowsAuthor bio: Will Fellows is the author of Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest, and A Passion to Preserve: Gay Men as Keepers of Culture, both finalists for the Lambda Literary Award. Farm Boys was named a notable book of the year by Esquire and was adapted into an off-Broadway stage play.  He lives in Milwaukee.
Helen P. Branson (1896-1977) was born in Almena, Kansas and worked as a bank teller, cook, and palm-reading nightclub entertainer before taking over a Melrose Avenue tavern and opening Helen’s in 1952. Self-described as having the demeanor of “your sixth grade teacher or the librarian in the Maple Street branch library,” and at five-foot-four, Branson was a force to be reckoned with, taking on the Vice squads and unruly haters.  She once said that after attending parties held by some of her patrons, she quickly became “bored stiff” at parties “held by straight people.”

Daniel Levin, author of The Last Ember

The author of The Last Ember, Daniel Levin will talk about his compelling and thought-provoking page-turner set in the high-stakes modern worlds of archeology, religion and international terrorism, which is nothing short of a Jewish Davinci Code. Levin is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He clerked for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel and was a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome in 2004.


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